Payment for minor league players and stadium employees in limbo

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Players aren’t paid during spring training. They’re given meal money, but that’s it. That’s not a big issue for big leaguers who make, at the very least, six figures per season. It’s a very big issue for minor league players, who are generally paid less than the minimum wage and often have to work other jobs during the offseason just to live.

Spring training is over for the time being because of the coronavirus pandemic, which means players aren’t even getting meal money anymore unless they’ve elected to stay in camp and keep working out. And they can’t live on that forever.

Baseball is an enormous industry that enjoyed record profits last year. The owners are ludicrously wealthy. And yet minor league players, most of whom did not sign million-dollar bonuses upon getting drafted or being signed internationally, the players who are quite literally the future of the sport, don’t know how they’ll be able to make ends meet.

The owners, and indeed the league itself, could easily create some sort of fund to at least give the players something resembling a wage until the crisis ends. The Rangers told Evan Grant that they’ve spoken with the commissioner’s office about paying minor leaguers during the shutdown, which is good to hear, but nothing has been decided just yet.

Players are traveling home, but they have these guys’ addresses and routing numbers. It’s doable. There’s no excuse to send them home and expect them to keep themselves ready to go at a moment’s notice while also providing no income at a time when finding a job could be extremely difficult.

Teams also have an obligation to help out the low-income workers at their stadiums. No games or events means no work for these people, which means no income. While many NBA owners and players are stepping up to provide for arena staff members, the Detroit Tigers are the only baseball team that has publicly said that they’re going to help their part-time workers. Zach Buchanan wrote an excellent story for The Athletic about these people, who suddenly don’t know when their next paycheck could be coming.

It’s ridiculous that NBA players like Zion Williamson have to step up when the owners of the teams they play for won’t, and it’s shameful that 29 of the 30 MLB teams have been all but silent on the issue. Stadium workers are just as important to the experience of going to a game as the players are. The least teams could do is make sure that they don’t go broke while they wait for crisis to end.

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